The bishops of Bolivia recently issued a statement lamenting the animosity with which President Evo Morales has attacked the Catholic Church. The statement comes in the closing days of Morales’ campaign to promote a “yes” vote on the reform of the country’s Constitution.
Last Tuesday at a rally in La Paz, Morales demanded that the bishops define a “clear” position in support of the Constitution. “For me, it is easy to understand that people are saying: ‘I am in agreement with half of it and in disagreement with the other.’ But, there are two options here: We agree or we don’t agree! There’s no middle ground, there are women and there are men, there’s no in between. Or is there? As far as I know there isn’t,” he said in direct reference to the bishops of the country.
On Wednesday, Morales demanded that Cardinal Julio Terrazas, Archbishop of Santa Cruz, “tell the truth” to the people and “admit” that the Catholic Church “participated in the drafting” of the new Constitution that was approved in Oruro on December 9, 2007, and in Congress on October 21, 2008.
“The fathers of the Church, especially the Bishops’ Conference, even drafted some articles and some have been included (in the new Constitution),” Morales accused.
The Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia responded with a document expressing their “bewilderment and concern over the persistent attacks and criticism that the highest authority of the country is carrying out against Cardinal Julio Terrazas. These insults and accusations do not coincide with his high office and are solely for the purpose of diminishing the moral authority of the representatives of the Catholic Church.”
“With regards to the President’s accusations that the cardinal or the bishops would be co-authors of some articles in the proposed constitutional text, the Catholic Church calls to mind that her participation throughout the constitutional process has always been of public knowledge, through documents, reflections and timely exhortations.”
“The Bishops Conference of Bolivia is concerned that while the Catholic Church contributes with calm, objective and respectful analysis to an electoral climate that is peaceful, critical and responsible, some government officials resort to insult and criticism,” the document concludes.